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Encyclopedia of Baldwin Wallace University History: Publications - E

An Index of Historical Content and Their Sources

Exponent

Citation: Mary Papp, ed., Grindstone (Berea, OH: Baldwin-Wallace College, 1945), p. 137.

This year's Exponent was published under a different system than previously. During the summer of 1944, a class in journalism under Dean Wicke produced the paper. In September, Don Dickson was elected managing editor with the journalism class serving as an editorial board.

Thus the Exponent became a working laboratory of the English Department, the plan being to hold a class each alternate term.

Because of light registration in journalism classes, the plan did not work out exactly as proposed, but journalism students became a nucleus around which a volunteer editorial staff was formed. The system proved to be highly successful in that it insured trained staff members. This will be continued next year. The Exponent won a first class honor rating in the Associated Collegiate Press' All American Newspaper critical survey for 1944.

Citation: Maria J. Hoffmann, ed., Grindstone (Berea, OH: Baldwin-Wallace College, 1978), pp. 155-159.

Sixty-five years is still quite a span as men measure time and for a publication, it represents a major accomplishment. Many of the major publications which dot the American scene have enjoyed smaller life spans than that of the Exponent. For a college newspaper, the span is also significant when it represents continuous and uninterrupted publication.

While the college media gained in prestige and legal authority during the late sixties, the seventies have thrust the campus newspaper into a period of decline. Student and faculty interest is down. The administration, which once shuddered at the thought of each new issue, has had little to fear in recent years. The College paper has become a medium for information today, but seldom does it adopt the role of a fighter in the seventies.

The end result may have been to thrust the newspaper into a more realistic situation, but it has made the editor's job much more difficult; in some cases it has made it intolerable. The Exponent story is one which is indicative of a First Row: Cathy Reidy, Isabel Suarez. Second Row: Vilma Bermudez-Torres, Carol Jackson, Lynne Fowler, Debbie Crosby, Elaine Poley, Dr. Anne E. Dash, Advisor. Third Row: Mrs. Ramona Wi lchek, Truby Hepler, Anita Martin, Dave Allphin, Kathy Dus, Michele Roberts, Kathy Crosby. great many of the problems facing college papers today.

As the Exponent expanded, so did its staffing needs. In 1970, the paper established its own composition department. Headlines followed as well. The paper began to go twelve pages and eventually went to twice a week.

Writing abilities have declined, particularly if we believe a Baldwin-Wallace faculty survey taken in 1977. Students apparently have less interest in terms of pursuing writing experience.

Student Senate still retains appointment, confirmation and funding perrogatives over the Exponent, an unusual situation. A 1976 survey of the media at private colleges in Ohio showed only a handful of schools still operating under this procedure. The situation has often worked well in the past, but Student Senate's workload has greatly increased in recent years. Little attention, beyond selection of editors and funding is paid by the Student Senate to the media.

Throughout the years, the Exponent has faced a variety of conditions. The Exponent has inherited an operational setup geared towards a much larger staff than may be feasible to employ in today's college market.

It is unusual, for instance, for a college paper at a school BW's size to publish twice a week. In the early seventies, the need was apparent, but what about today? Not only does the Exponent publish twice a week, but it handles all composition short of printing. That entails a large support staff, drawing manpower from other areas.

In the wake of all these considerations, one aspect remains. In a time when liberal arts institutions are concerned about the validity of their degrees in an ever changing world, extensive workshop opportunities in graphics, advertising writing, and business exist on the Exponent.

During the 1977-78 academic year, there had been numerous staff problems and the position of editor became a crucial one in the perpetuation of the paper as a means of campus communication.

The best way to gain insight into the editorship was to interview Devora Swanson, who had served as editor-in-chief for two quarters, Fall and Winter. She took on the job because, " I thought it would be an interesting learning experience .. . I wanted to expand myself and try something else. But, mostly I was laboring under the delusion that I might be able to effect some kind of a change around her."

Swanson felt that the characteristics of a good editor include patience, time, organization, and dedication to the job.

Swanson had positive reactions to the editorship, saying " I've learned a lot about how to manage many th ings at once. I don't think it's been anywhere close to what it cou ld have been if I had enough time to prepare for the job in terms of learning procedure." She also mentioned that she was not " fully aware of the kind of time the paper requires, and no one should be asked to do that much alone."

Swanson enjoyed her term as editor of the Exponent. She added that she learned about herself and her capabilities as well as the procedures of management and working with others.

Swanson intimated that "not just anyone" can take on the responsibilities of the editorship. The editor has to be a special type of person .. . one who enjoys organizing as well as one who is able to delegate authority and work well with people.

When asked if she had any suggestions to offer to a new editor, Swanson responded as follows: " I just pray that he or she is not planning too much academically for the next year. The editorship is a full time job by itself and it is sad when so much responsibility is delegated to any one person, but that's the way it stands. The new editor is going to have to build something from nothing."

Swanson felt that she would not have done anything differently. " I've tried my best with what I've had to work with. If I had had a large staff with interested people, I would have been able to expand a little, but again, the Exponent is bound by the fact that this is such a small campus. Not as much happens here as compared with Cleveland State or Case Western Reserve, people cannot expect mountains of information on things that are of little consequence." As for other dividends, she cited the fact that she had been able to meet and work with students and faculty members.

When questioned about her staff, Swanson displayed positive feelings toward them. She stressed the fact that more staff members can always be used. Swanson stated that staff members must be conscientious in terms of following up on what they say they are going to do. The editor cannot possibly think of everything and writers in particular must use a lot of personal initiative.

According to Swanson, "The way the staff stands right now, an editor has to be nothing short of a miracle worker. On a campus of somewhere close to 2000 students it takes a lot of time to think up stories. The students demand a paper, but there just isn't that much that's newsworthy."

Swanson added some further insight into the problem of the shortage of staff members. She was of the opinion that "too many people just do not want to bother with it. Most students who, when asked if they would write a story, reply that they cannot write. This leads to the belief that the shortage of staff members is a symptom of two problems: One, students are not able to write on what they themselves consider to be a college level and two, they don't want to bother with trying to learn."

"I think the problems with the Exponent right now stem from the fact that too much has been left to too few, and of those few, only a handful are consistent in their commitments. We have no department of faculty members to help us with recruitment, such as WBWC has, and if the students on this campus are not required to do something, few of them bother to put themselves out. The Exponent is a campus responsibility, not that of an individual."